Android says goodbye to harmony

Android places bets on OpenJDK

Michael Thomas

Android logotype image via Shutterstock

A reference in Hacker News to a code basis commit deemed as “mysterious” gave the starting signal, followed by an official confirmation on the Google website at the end of the year: for the next Android version, Java API implementation will be replaced by OpenJDK, the open source version of JDK.

As was confirmed to tech portal VentureBeat, for Android N Google will replace the implementation of Java APIs with an OpenJDK implementation. According to the report, the step can be attributed to Android’s self-image as an open source platform: thanks to the new, OpenJDK-based approach, a common code basis for all Java API libraries used would be created, and with it, the foundation for a simplified app and service development, according to a company spokesperson. Furthermore, the release of Java 8 played an enormous role in the company’s decision, the Google spokesperson said. Google would evidently like to invest in general more energy in the further development of OpenJDK and thus have a greater impact on new features and improvements.

Google and Oracle: At odds for years

Yet another reason could explain Google’s announcement: the relationship between Google and Oracle had already been strained, until it finally ended in turmoil in 2010. With the acquisition of Sun Microsystems in January of that year, Oracle became keeper of the Java technology and sued Google for patent and trademark violation. The company used Java APIs for which Oracle would have loved to increase license fees and already in 2007 published Android SDK written in Java. As a result of an appeal proceeding, as the initial verdict was in the favor of Google, Oracle finally obtained the rights. Currently, the legal dispute regarding copyright protection of the APIs is once again up in the air due to a new trial.

Numerous Hacker-News users and not only are now speculating as to whether both companies have in the meantime made an out-of-court settlement, or if with its decision, Google had wanted to avoid a negative outcome of the proceedings. At least concerning this matter, the Google spokesperson seemed rather tight-lipped: since the proceedings are still underway, we unfortunately cannot provide any information on this issue.

Michael Thomas
Michael Thomas studied Educational Science at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz and has been working as a freelance author at since 2013.

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